"We can't just storm in to the forest." I argued. "We may know it well but the fae have been getting to know it while we've been hiding out here, and they seem to have lived in forests their whole lives anyway. They will use everything to their advantage and we won['t even see them coming. Especially not your men."
"Must you fight every idea of mine?"
"Will you two stop?" Jem cried, slamming her hands down on the wooden table. Corin and I looked guiltily at each other and I crossed my arms, unimpressed. "We'll never get anything done if you two just keep bickering."
"Well if he-" I started but Jem gave me a look that made me zip it. Corin glanced at me again and I rolled my eyes. A small smile appeared on his face but he covered it well.
"Jem, I suggest that we plan several attacks. The fae have powers, and we do not know how many of them there are. We will need several layers of attack. I think archers should be positioned in the trees at the edge of the forest to shoot down any fae that may try to escape or attack the force that we leave here. I think if we have the first group driving the fight out in to the open then we stand a better chance." Griever said, twisting his sword thoughtfully.
"And what happens if our first rank get taken out in the forest and we're all stood there like idiots, waiting?" Corin argued.
"Well it's better than your idea." I replied. He looked like he was going to grab me and shake me, so I relented. "But he has a point. Separating in such a way would mean we were vulnerable if anything went wrong."
Corin's surprise was obvious but I ignored him. Everything had been... odd, since the moment in the forest. Our training sessions had become... heated. He was good, a fighter with the ability to follow both his heart and his head, although his temper was a problem. He began to lose focus if he were angry, and there had been countless times when I had beaten him simply by throwing him with comments.
"I think Griever's idea will work. We need fast runners to keep everyone in touch. We have to use our fae children. They can run through the forest without automatically being stopped."
"They're children!" I cried.
"We must all do our bit."
"Fine." I sat in one of the chairs and rubbed my temples. "We have to have more fire power. Some of these fae can be killed by sword, we know that, but what if there are things in there we can't even have nightmares about?"
"Then we cross that bridge when we come to it." Jem said.
"We can't just go in there and expect swords to be enough!" I argued. "We need catapults, fires around the forest to light arrows... we may need to burn down the forest, ahve you thought about that?"
"It's our home!"
"Right now our home has been taken over. We can find other places to live, but not if these things are still running wild."
"Kate..." She looked at me with such sadness. She knew the forest was the only place I had ever considered home. She and the others, they all dreamed of the home, the family... I had never wanted to be anywhere near family after my harsh introduction to life. The Hawks was the closest I had ever gotten. I glanced at Corin.
"If the battle starts to go badly, we burn it." I said firmly. No one argued. No one dared. "I think we have a plan. Spread the word. And tell everyone to enjoy the concert while they can. We go to war tomorrow."
The conversation was over and we all dispersed. I avoided Corin. I didn't want one last training session, or one last word.
Everyone was congregating around the stage once more and I saw Jem and Griever heading towards it. They would make the announcement. I... I needed some time to think.
Everything was different. Corin had wormed his way in to my life and I still didn't know how I felt about it. He was there every possible moment, fighting, talking... it was messing with my head. No longer were my dreams of killing, or of being killed by him. Now he saved me every night from fanged creatures with leering eyes and horrifying disfigurements. I hated it, hated feeling indebted to him after everything... Why was this confusing? It was no longer black and white, good and bad. Now, we were working together and it had messed me up.
The dark had settled, Everyone was at the concert, enjoying food, drink and music. Even dancing. And I sat in the dark and the cold, unwilling to be a part of false happiness and normality. Slowly, people began to disappear to bed, until the only people left were guarding the edge of the forest, surrounded by the watch fires. I couldn't go to bed. All I would do is dream again, and I wasn't willing to face the confusion again just yet.
I felt him before I saw him. I knew him now, the way he moved, the way he... smelt.
"Can't sleep?" I muttered.
"No I was just enjoying a walk in the wee hours of the morning."
I rolled my eyes but felt there was no point in lying any more. I could be dead tomorrow.
"I keep thinking about the fae that almost bit my head off. All I can see when I try to sleep is its mouth."
I refused to look at him in case he showed any pity. I couldn't cope with that.